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Old Apr 15th, 2012, 07:54 PM   #26
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Full Women's Doubles semi-final TV-report for Vera Zvonarëva

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THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
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Women’s Doubles: Semi-final TV-report: Zvonarëva/Vesnina v Dulko/Pennetta (Friday 2nd July 2010)
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+ Vera Zvonarëva [EF]/Elena Vesnina d. (GISELA DULKO [DF]/FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF])[4], 6-3 6-1

Vera and Elena followed up their sensational win over the Williams sisters with another brilliant performance, as they played perfectly in tandem, and had too much power for Gisela and Flavia, who had won Premier doubles-titles together at Miami, Stuttgart and Rome earlier in 2010.

Vera made a full effort in this match, rather than trying to save herself for the Women’s Singles final by not running balls down.

The final scoreline may look very one-sided, but the first seven games were extremely hard-fought, with the Russians wasting 4 BPs in Flavia’s opening service-game (0-0*), and one more against Gisela’s serve before Elena converted their sixth BP of the match with a backhand volley-winner down the middle: *2-1.

Vera saved 4 BPs on her own serve before Flavia broke back with a forehand punch-volley winner down the middle: *2-2. It looked as though the ‘I’ formation – which had done so much damage against the Williams sisters – wasn’t going to work against Gisela and Flavia.

The Russians wasted BP×2 at *2-2 (15/40) before breaking Flavia anyway for *3-2. The Russians wasted BP×3 at 4-2* before Gisela held to make it *4-3.

After that, Gisela and Flavia’s resistance crumbled, as the Russians won seven games in a row to lead 6-3 5-0* before Flavia held serve – incredibly for her first time in the match – to make it a breadstick rather than a bagel.

During those seven games, Vera sealed the first set with a backhand winner down the line, hit a gorgeous short-angled crosscourt forehand drop-volley winner to take a 1:0 1-0* lead, and a crosscourt forehand volley-winner to take the 6-3 *5-0 lead.

With Vera serving for the match at *5-1, Elena hit three volley-winners for 40/15, and Vera hit a beautiful rolled crosscourt forehand volley to set up a thunderous crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner for Elena.


First set
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ZVONA/VESNI _*@_@*_*@ 6
DULKO/PENNE *__@__*__ 3

The match was first on Court One. Vera/Elena won the toss and elected to receive. Vera and Flavia received in the ad-court for their respective teams. The match started at 13:11 BST.

Flavia serving 0-0: Flavia forehand lob just long. 0/15. Elena hit an off-backhand volley-winner. 0/30. Vera at the net moved to her right too soon, giving Flavia a forehand pass-winner down the line. 15/30. Service-winner. 30/30. Vera spread Flavia with a couple of well-placed volleys, and hit a crosscourt backhand volley winner down the middle. 30/40 (BP #1). Vera backhand just long. Deuce #1. Elena off-backhand wide. Ad Vera (BP #2). Flavia’s crosscourt backhand forced a floater from Vera, and Gisela dispatched it with a forehand smash-winner. Deuce #2. Double fault (second serve long). Ad Vera (BP #3). Vera hit a backhand long, and looked annoyed. Deuce #3. Elena’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Flavia to hit a forehand lob long. Ad Vera (BP #4). Vera crosscourt forehand wide. Deuce #4. Gisela intercepted to hit a forehand volley-winner down the middle. Ad Flavia (GP #1). Vera backhand return just long. Held.

Four BPs went begging, then Flavia converted the first GP that she had.

Elena serving 0-1: Double fault (second serve just wide). 0/15. Ace out wide: just inside the sideline. 15/15. Vera hit an excellent first volley, but Pennetta watched Vera the whole time, and Gisela hit a backhand volley-winner down the middle. 15/30. Service-winner. 30/30. Elena, driven outside the sideline, used the angle for a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Deep first serve down the middle: Flavia hit a body-jamming forehand return, forcing Vera to bunt a backhand volley long. Deuce #1. Service-winner out wide. Ad Elena (GP #2). Elena off-forehand + crosscourt forehand volley-winner. Held.

Gisela serving 1-1: Double fault (second serve just long). 0/15. Gisela’s down-the-line backhand forced Vera to earth a forehand volley. 15/15. Elena dumped a backhand return into the net. 15/30. Double fault (second serve just long). 30/30. Elena’s depth forced Gisela to hit a forehand long. 30/40 (BP #1). Vera dumped a cheap backhand return into the net. Deuce #1. Gisela forehand just long. Ad Vera (BP #2). Elena hit a backhand volley-winner down the middle. Broken.

Vera serving 2-1: Service-winner out wide: Gisela hit a forehand return into the stands. 15/0. Gisela hit a forehand lob-winner over Elena’s head, and not even the speedy Vera - try as she did - could run it down. 15/15. Flavia forehand volley-winner. 15/30. Elena netted a forehand volley. 15/40 (BP #1). Vera played a nice spreading rally, went to the net, and hit a deep crosscourt forehand that forced Gisela to hit a forehand just long. 30/40 (BP #1). Service-winner down the line. Deuce #1. An aggressive return straight at Elena forced her to net a backhand volley. Ad Flavia (BP #3). An excellent first serve set up Elena’s forehand smash-winner. Deuce #2. Gisela forced a floater, and hit a forehand smash virtual winner. Ad Flavia (BP #4). Deep first serve down the middle forced Flavia to hit a backhand long. Deuce #3. Gisela hit a deep, error-forcing backhand return. Ad Flavia (BP #5). Flavia hit a forehand punch-volley winner down the middle. Broken.

The ‘I’ formation proved so effective against the Williams sisters, but its limitations were cruelly exposed there.

Flavia serving 2-2: Vera bisected Flavia and Gisela with an off-forehand volley-winner. The Russians dominated the point at the net, forcing Gisela to net a backhand. 0/30. Flavia crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/30. Vera went to the net, forcing Flavia to net a backhand volley. 15/40 (BP #1). Elena netted a forehand return. 30/40 (BP #2). Gisela off-backhand volley-winner. Deuce #1. Elena’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Flavia to net a forehand. Ad Vera (BP #3). Vera punished a short second serve with a deep crosscourt backhand return just inside the outer sideline, forcing Flavia to bunt a defensive backhand lob long. Broken.

Elena is now punctuating her every shot with a karate-like shout of "aya".

Elena serving 3-2: Elena hit a huge crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline, and got a loud cheer from the crowd. 15/0. Elena advanced up the court, her crosscourt backhand forcing an error. 30/0. Gisela’s deep crosscourt forehand forced Elena to net a forehand right in front of Flavia. 30/15. Flavia hit a down-the-line backhand long and wide. 40/15 (GP #1). Vera on the third stroke hit a backhand drop-volley winner. Held.

Gisela serving 2-4: Gisela forehand long. 0/15. Gisela crosscourt backhand wide. 0/30. Vera hit an off-forehand volley-winner. 0/40 (BP #1). Elena hit a crosscourt forehand smash would-be winner just wide. 15/40 (BP #2). Flavia dispatched a slow ball with an off-forehand volley-winner. 30/40 (BP #3). Flavia dispatched a floater with an off-forehand smash-winner. Deuce #1. Elena crosscourt forehand just wide. Ad Gisela (GP #1). Flavia forehand smash-winner. Held.

Three more BPs go begging. The Russians should be up 6-1 *0-0 after this number of games, and even further ahead at this point in time.

Vera serving 4-3 (new balls): Vera hit a forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Service-winner out wide. 30/0. Service-winner. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera crosscourt backhand winner. Held.

Flavia serving 3-5: Vera off-forehand smash-winner. 0/15. Vera netted a backhand. 15/15. Vera forehand just long. Elena crosscourt forehand forced Gisela into error. 30/30. Flavia crosscourt forehand wide. 30/40 (SP #1 for Vera/Elena). Vera hit a backhand winner down the line. Vera/Elena won the first set 6-3 at 13:55 BST (43m).


Second set
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ZVONA/VESNI *@*@*_* 6
DULKO/PENNE _____*_ 1

Elena serving 0-0: Gisela crosscourt forehand return wide. 15/0. Flavia forehand return just long. 30/0. Gisela forehand long. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera hit a gorgeous short-angled crosscourt forehand drop-volley winner at the net. Held.

Flavia serving 0-1: Elena backhand volley long. 15/0. Flavia hit a forehand winner down the Russians’ right sideline. 15/15. Flavia netted a forehand off a deep forehand from Elena. 15/30. Gisela’s body-jamming crosscourt forehand forced Elena to net an off-backhand. 30/30. Flavia hit a down-the-line forehand winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Vera went to the net, forcing Flavia to hit a backhand long. Deuce #1. Second serve clipped the service-line but was called long, so Flavia challenged it: Hawk-Eye showed that it caught about 5% of the breadth of the line! So, instead of a double fault, Flavia got to replay the point with another first serve. Gisela tried to break up Elena and Flavia’s exchange of crosscourt forehands by intercepting at the net, but she moved to her right too early, and Elena nailed a forehand pass-winner down the line. Ad Vera (BP #1). Vera exchanged a series of off-forehands with Flavia’s crosscourt backhands, until Flavia tried to hit one down the line and sprayed it wide. Broken.

Vera serving 2-0: Deep second serve induced Gisela to hit a backhand return wide. 15/0. Elena intercepted to hit a backhand volley-winner down the middle. 30/0. First serve out wide forced a floater, which Elena dispatched with an off-forehand volley-winnerr. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera backhand long. 40/15 (GP #2). Vera forehand just long. 40/30 (GP #3). Vera’s crosscourt backhand forced Flavia to hit a backhand long. Held.

Gisela serving 0-3: Second serve: Elena hit a deep off-backhand return just inside the sideline, forcing Gisela to earth a forehand. 0/15. Service-winner on the service-line. The Russians wasted a challenge. 15/15. Elena dispatched a short floater with a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 15/30. Gisela went to the net, but Elena’s dipping off-backhand pass forced her to net a forehand volley. 15/40 (BP #1). Vera pounced on Gisela’s weak down-the-line forehand to hit a crosscourt backhand winner. Broken.

So far, the Russians are playing perfectly in tandem, and have too much power for Flavia and Gisela.

Elena serving 4-0: Ace down the middle. 15/0. Ace out wide. 30/0. Gisela netted a forehand. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve out wide forced a short return, which Vera dispatched with a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. Held.

Flavia serving 0-5: Elena crosscourt forehand just wide. 15/0. Elena hit a crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 15/15. Gisela intercepted Elena’s crosscourt forehand to hit a forehand volley-winner down the middle. 30/15. Vera chopped a forehand volley long. 40/15 (GP #1). First serve out wide forced Elena to hit a crosscourt forehand return just long. Held.

And that, incredibly, was Flavia’s first hold of the match.

Vera serving 5-1: First serve long. The Russians wasted a challenge on a first serve that was clearly long. 0/15. Elena hit a backhand reflex-volley winner. 15/15. Elena hit a backhand volley-winner. 30/15. Elena hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 40/15 (MP #1 for Vera/Elena). Vera hit a beautiful rolled crosscourt forehand volley to set up a thunderous crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner for Elena. Vera/Elena won 6-3 6-1 at 14:19 BST (second set 23m, match 1h07m).

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Dr. Andrew Broad
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